Feature: Iraqi artists strive for better post-pandemic future

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BAGHDAD, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Many Iraqi artists endeavor to use their artistic creativity to raise public awareness against the coronavirus pandemic and inspire people with hope for a better future in the post-pandemic era.

At a unique building of the Iraqi Plastic Artists Society, Qasim Hamza, an artist and secretary of the Society, sat next to one of his ceramic works about coronavirus at a corner of the building which seemed almost abandoned except for a few employees.

The Society's unique building, whose design was inspired by tents in the Arabian desert, was once a gathering place for prominent Iraqi artists and was crowded with visitors during hundreds of art galleries for decades since it was built in the middle of the last century.

Hamza is keen to communicate with the people because he believes it is his duty to spread awareness among society members.

"The artist is usually affected by the events of society, and he also has the duty to educate and influence society because there is an eternal connection between art and human," Hamza told as he was preparing to explain a piece of his ceramic artwork about the pandemic.

Hamza tried to use a simple idea to easily reach the audience by embodying the virus and then placing it inside the red circle to symbolize the danger of the disease around the world.

However, it was a new opportunity for Hamza to reach the people when the Iraqi Ministry of Culture inaugurated the 13th session of the al-Wasiti Festival of Fine Arts late in November in Baghdad.

The month-long festival was very important for the artists as it is the first artistic event with the gradual return of life after months of strict measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The festival was seen as an excellent opportunity for some 270 Iraqi artists to reach their audience by showcasing more than 300 works of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and calligraphy.

One of the participants in the Ministry of Culture festival, Kadhim Shamhoud, an Iraqi artist in his 60s, told Xinhua that the artist has an educational duty to the world.

"As artists, our mission is to use our artistic tools to serve the society through conveying an educational message to the society about crises and pandemics, especially as coronavirus is sweeping the world," Shamhoud said.

As the pandemic has swept over the world which seemed paralyzed and unprepared to confront it, Shamhoud believes it is part of his responsibility to change the people's thoughts and feelings in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic to prepare for the post-coronavirus era.

"Art is a universal message concerned with beauty, peace, love, cooperation that can be exploited to change the thoughts of the society members, especially that we have coronavirus pandemic. The change must start from families, schools, and streets," Shamhoud added.

Zahraa Khalil, 23, a female artist told Xinhua that she believes it is necessary to prepare for a better future for the entire world, as the coronavirus pandemic has turned life in all its details upside down and revealed the weakness of our world.

"My message for a better future is to start paying attention to family health, education, revive the spirit of cooperation and love among the peoples of the world instead of hatred, extremism, and conflicts," Khalil said.

She believes that changing the thoughts and feelings of members of communities "is an essential step in reshaping a new world that can take better care for human and nature issues instead of spending on weapons and wars."

"Hope is always there. Humanity has been hit with many diseases, such as tuberculosis, plague, and cholera, as well as wars that have destroyed entire countries, but the world has always been able to cope with adversities and get over them," Hamza concluded. Enditem

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